Wednesday, 28 October 2015

2015 Asics 5.7km race #melbournemarathon

Could I possibly win this?

Believe it or not, at about the 4km mark these words and thoughts were running (slight pun thought of) through my head. I had steadily ducked and weaved through the field, and Easy to Spot Guy in Orange was only just ahead. He was the last runner I could see…

The Fish family were packed and on the 8:27 train from the outer Eastern Suburbs and on our way into the city so that I could run in the Asics 5.7km race, a small part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival. The 11am start was very family friendly! The kids were excited and so was I. Matrix sportswear had asked me to run for them, and I was super keen to see how I’d go in a larger race, one with almost 3,000 participants. We also got to finish the race with a lap of the iconic turf on Melbournes hallowed ground; the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground).

We arrived with plenty of time to find the Generation Run viewing point & cheer squad before having a mosey round the stalls and retail as we worked our way over to the start line. I said my goodbyes, and went through my warm ups before working my way to the very front of the crowd to the starters tape. Now it’s been a while since I’ve run in a mass event – nearly 3,000 people in two waves and I was surprised at the number of younger runners; 7-12 year olds that were at the tape. Some of these kids might be able to run, but my worry was them getting smashed in the crush.
Eventually the clock ticked over and we were off!

Where's the fish? Orange and Blue - Does it stand out to you?
1st km : 3:57 (Gradient Adjusted Pace (Strava) 3:35) The plan was to take the first km easily, to find my place in the race and be ready to finish strongly. As expected the young bucks raced off, the kids smashed the first few hundred metres and then peeled away to the side. We ran along the famed Batman Ave (an early Melbourne politician, not the superhero!) and under the Willam Barak bridge. I was feeling great at this point, sitting somewhere between 3:45 and 4:00 pace. The field was thinning and little and I was gradually moving through the field, picking a shirt and catching them before moving on to the next. It was though the park and along the river briefly before a short but sharp climb up to the Flinders St Bridge and over to the other side of the river. It was here that I had my fist individual cheer “Go Mr Fin!”, someone from school! We eased over the bridge and the pace picked up as the path eased down to the riverside.

2nd km: 3:51 (GAP 3:50) This section of the race was nearly flat. I loved this section, and it was where I began to make my move. In my line of sight I could count about 10 runners. A few of the younger ones that were gradually flagging, some strong runners in the mid 20s and a group of 5 working together. In the distance was Mr Fluoro Orange.  As we ran along the Yarra River I hopped from one runner to the next. I was able to slowly reel them in, shadow them for a few hundred meters and then slipstream ahead and work on the next one. I caught Mr Aston Villa, Mr Yellow Nike, Mr Blue Brooks and ran with Mr Essendon for a while. I was starting to labour a little but no one had passed me back – a good sign.

3rd km: 4:00 (GAP 3:54) As we ran past the Botanical Gardens and crossed the Anderson St Bridge I was closing in on the group ahead. The path was just undulating and I was able to work the inclines and keep a consistent pace. The heart rate was now hitting low to mid 170s and I had to focus on form and breathing but I was also loving the thrill of the chase. As we neared the Batman Ave bridge and went under I caught the group of men and the leading lady and continued the hunt for Mr Flouro Orange. He was about 200m ahead.

4th km 3:53 (GAP 3:56) I was starting to hurt. The HR was now mid 170s to 180. As we left the path by the river and returned through the park I finally caught Mr Orange. He was breathing hard and tiring. After a brief word of encouragement to him I moved on. I could see no other runners – was I actually leading? The feeling was surreal, and I knew it was now or never to dig deep.

5th km: 4:02 (GAP 3:59) I pushed hard through the park and up and onto the Barak Williams Bridge. Smile and wave for photos, and drive over the bridge. I was a regular over the shoulder looker now, no one was going to catch me! Coming down the bridge it was a big turn onto Batman Ave again and we started the run home. I was almost pinching myself at this point. There was no one ahead, was this possible. I’d always said it depends on who turns up on the day, but my pace was no way near what I would have anticipated the lead runners to run. Did they just not do it today? What would I do at presentations?

I’d told Baden to keep an eye out for me at 11:19, and as I ran past the tents and stalls I heard another ‘Go Lachie!’. When we caught up later he told me he literally walked to the fence and saw me just as I ran past.

The last 700m… 3:38 pace and 3:37 GAP

The last 700m of a race is always the hardest. You’re feeling cooked but you have to just keep on pushing. The HR was hitting the mid 180s. If I was going to win I couldn’t let anyone catch me. Racing down Batman Ave and turning into the MCG was a surreal feeling. 

Turn to the left and it was full!
So often have I seen the concerts, athletic events and even Mrs Fish entering from this very post two years ago, it sends a shiver down your spine. As we came out of the brief tunnel and into the sunlight I veered down the 5.7km chute and started my lap. With a last form check, I hit the rubber track and then jumped to the side - I wanted to run on the hallowed turf! The short straight turned into a bend which very quickly straightened out and the finish line was there. I could hear my name and the kids on the cow bells, and with a last ditch sprint I crossed an eerily quiet line. So maybe I didn’t win?

There were three happy looking blokes getting photographed… Ah, it was a great feeling all the same, and I was stoked with how strongly I ran. 

It took a while to get through the lower area of the stadium and up to the family. I had one very proud and excited family and friendship group in the Generation Run crowd. They saw me enter the stadium, the mismatched pair of Royal Bay socks stood out like a sore thumb. Mission accomplished! 

I’d hit my sub 22:30 time, 22:10 and was secretly hoping I’d finished in the top 20.

You can imagine how ecstatic I was when I saw the ratified results, 9th overall in 22:10. 9th out of nearly 1000 men and 3000 overall. I was stoked. 

Will I be lured by the full #melbournemarathon next year?

Gear check:
#GenerationRun singlet
#poweredbyskins Powershorts and Skins essential short
Blue and Orange Royal Bay socks
Saucony A6 runners

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PS - not my photos, except the one of me!